Background: Irradiation of tumors causes the death of both parenchymal tumor cells as well as normal tissue stromal cells (e.g., endothelium, connective tissue). However, it has been difficult to distinguish the contributions to overall tumor response after irradiation from the two compartments. The development of the severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mouse provides a model in which the contribution of stromal cell responses to ionizing radiation to overall tumor response can be defined, because its normal tissue cells are extremely radiosensitive. Therefore, the results of irradiation of tumors in radiation-sensitive (SCID) and radiation-resistant hosts can be compared, and the contribution of the normal tissue stroma clarified.
Purpose: Our purpose was to investigate the effects of radiation-induced stromal cell damage on tumor cell death, using tumor growth delay (GD) and local control (complete and permanent regression of the irradiated tumor) as end points.
Methods: Tumor GD and local control experiments were performed in SCID, athymic, and C3H mice. Sixty SCID and 60 nude mice for each of three human tumor cell lines (HGL9, HSTS26, HCT15) and for each of five murine cell lines (FSC1, FSC2, FSM1, FSM2, E01) and 60 SCID and 60 C3H mice for the FSa2 spontaneous C3H sarcoma were studied. Neoplasms were produced by injection of 10(6) cells from in vitro tissue cultures into the flanks of donor mice; after tumors had grown, experimental neoplasms were produced by transplanting 2- to 3-mm fragments into recipient mice. Animals were randomly assigned to various groups when tumors reached average volumes of 120 mm3. Graded, single-dose x irradiations (15-115 Gy, dose rate about 7 Gy/min) were given under acutely hypoxic conditions. Tumors were scored one to two times per week until recurrence.
Results: The x-ray doses needed to achieve local control in 50% of the animals (tumor control doses, TCD50) ranged from 45.1 to 58.0 Gy for human tumors and from 36.3 to 114.0 Gy for murine tumors. On average, the TCD50 values in SCID mice were only about 3.5% lower than values in nude or C3H mice. The amount of GD defined at 66% of the TCD50 for the various groups was, however, 27% longer in the SCID mice (P = .004).
Conclusions: While the three-fold higher radiation sensitivity of the normal tissue stromal cells in the SCID mice did not alter the percentage of tumors controlled by x irradiation in the SCID mouse hosts as compared with other hosts, there appear to be significant differences in GD. Radiation-induced stromal cell damage does not significantly contribute to tumor cell death; however, it can prolong the interval of tumor regression.